Australia grabbed the first ever women's rugby gold medal in Olympic history after they muscled down New Zealand 24-17 in the rugby sevens final at Rio Games here on Monday.
Reaching the elimination phase as the top finishers in Group A, Australia eased past Spain 24-0 in the quarterfinals on Sunday and defeated Canada 17-5 in the semifinal clash on Monday morning. New Zealand, meanwhile, edged the United States 5-0 and trounced Britain 25-7 before making it to the final.
Australia have won eight of the previous 13 meetings with New Zealand in World Cup Sevens and Sevens World Series. They won all the last four meetings with their last defeat being the final of the World Series in Sao Paulo, Brazil last year.
Kayla McAlister gifted New Zealand a 5-0 lead four minutes into the first half but Emma Tonegato and substitute Evania Pelite help the Australians rewrite the score to 10-5 before half time.
In the second half Australia kept extending the lead to 24-5. Although the Kiwis answered with 12 straight scores, it was just not enough for them to turn the tables.
"We've just made Australian history, rugby history. It means everything," Australia's Ellia Green said after the match. "I have this gold medal around my neck. But during the game I didn't even think of it as the gold medal match. This is just another game."
Canada took the bronze medal with a convincing 33-10 defeat over Britain.
The last time rugby was included in the Olympic Games was in 1924. But no women's rugby matches had ever been staged in Olympics before. A total of 12 women's team competed in the rugby event here at the Rio Games.